“Is my sister-in-law’s birthday this month, or was it in October?” I asked my mom in my email. I added the comment, “I’m losing my mind!” In her response, she confirmed that my sister-in-law’s birthday is in October, and she reassured me that I’m not going crazy but that I’m suffering from a case of “battle fatigue”.
Battle fatigue – what a perfect phrase to describe what I’m currently experiencing! “Exhausted by life” is another appropriate term coined by my Bible study teacher. Over the last month I’ve felt increasingly weary, overwhelmed and incapable of living life on life’s terms. I’ve been on my knees begging God to let up on me, renew me, reinvigorate me and relieve me of what I perceive as the relentless, incessant demands on my life. Please, Lord, help me be a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)! My sanity feels threatened, and because of my history with depression I have to be very careful with managing stress or risk triggering an onset. I try to remind myself “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men” (Holman Christian Standard Bible; Colossians 3:23), but I’m so tired and burned out!
I started this blog with the goal of encouraging my fellow valiant warriors out there striving to serve daily in the Lord’s army. But this time I’m the one who needs encouraging. Recently, in my study of 1 Kings, I found comfort in discovering that even the Prophet Elijah needed rest and refreshment from the Lord.
Elijah had just experienced two great spiritual victories: He defeated the prophets of the false Canaanite god Baal, and he demonstrated through a miracle that the Lord was the one and only true God. Also, God had commanded Elijah to present himself to Ahab the King of Israel during a severe famine, and the Lord promised to send rain on the land as a result. Elijah obeyed God’s command, and after he and the people slaughtered the prophets of Baal a heavy rain soon started to fall. But when Ahab told his wife Jezebel how Elijah had killed all the prophets of Baal, she vowed to kill him.
Even after the numerous miracles Elijah had performed proving that the Lord was with him, Elijah was still afraid and “ran for his life” (New International Version; 1 Kings 19:3) when Jezebel threatened him. Upon arriving in the wilderness, Elijah “came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.” (1 Kings 19:4b-5).
Praise God that the Bible describes its characters’ moments of discouragement and readiness to give up and quit! I relate so much to Elijah at his breaking point, and I’ve often cried out, “I have had enough, Lord!” I’m encouraged that God provided what Elijah needed in the depths of his weariness and fatigue:
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He [Elijah] looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord refreshed Elijah with food, drink and rest. In fact, Elijah was strengthened and empowered so much that he was soon able to walk 40 days through the desert without any additional sustenance – a distance of over 200 miles!
God’s Word promises that no matter what problems we face that make us want to lose heart and quit, our weakness is the perfect opportunity for Him to display His power (2 Corinthians 12:9). Scripture also reminds us that our circumstances are only temporary:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 16-18; emphasis mine)
I know the Lord wants me to depend on Him for strength to do what He calls me to do. It’s been made clear to me time and time again that I can’t accomplish much in my own power. At the same time, sometimes I really need a reprieve from the stress, toil and strain of this world. During this busy time in my life when I don’t feel I have the option to slow down, Psalm 51 saves the day! It’s the perfect prayer for those of us experiencing “battle fatigue”, and it’s my prayer for you today, mighty warrior.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12)
I recommend listening to “Worn” – an awesome song by Tenth Avenue North!